Good Habits for Guitar Players
Your practice time is valuable, and if you are like most guitar players, you don’t have enough practice time in a day. So it is important to maximize the time that you DO have. In this article, we will review several things to consider doing every time you pick up your instrument. Keep in mind that this is not “one-size-fits-all.” You may not need or want to do all of these things; they are suggestions to help you make the most of your time.
Plan and Be Consistent
Try to set aside the same amount of time every day to play. It is best to do it at the same time every day, if you can. This makes it much easier to develop the discipline it takes to effectively practice. Make a short list of what you plan to do during the session in advance, with a breakdown in the time you wish to devote to each item on the list. (This would include running scales, working on a lesson provided by your instructor, working on new music, reviewing songs you have already learned, etc.)
A certain amount of flexibility is needed, particularly when you are starting out. You will eventually be able to find a plan and a pattern that works for you.
This is an especially good idea if you are a beginner, but is effective at all skill levels. Take a moment at the beginning of your session, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Picture yourself playing effectively, of mastering that difficult passage, or performing the song you are learning in front of an appreciative audience. Keep it brief, and keep it positive! This can help set the tone for an effective practice session, and clear your mind of negativity, so that when mistakes are made, you will not get quite so frustrated.
Review the Basics
Is your guitar properly tuned? How is your posture? Are you holding your guitar in a manner that will facilitate effective playing? If you have an instructor, have them review these things on a regular basis.
Run scales and chords for at least a few minutes every time you start to practice. This may seem unnecessary, but consider this: All pro athletes practice the basics all day, every day. Pro golfers, for example, spend most of their practice time hitting the most basic shots, because they know that is the foundation for everything they do on the course. So it is with professional musicians. Every respected guitarist runs scales and chords on a frequent basis. You should consider doing the same.
Stick To It and Be Patient
Learning music, or anything else, can be quite a challenge at times. As practicing guitar is both a mental and physical exercise, it is easy to get frustrated when the going gets rough. In addition, life has its distractions. While some of these distractions may be legitimate and need to be addressed immediately, others can merely tempt you to put down the guitar if you are having a moment of frustration. Try to resist. Be patient with yourself, and use your time and energy wisely. It will pay huge dividends later.